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A Delicate Daffodil Defies The Heavy Rains of Spring

It's late spring. And as the weather goes here in New England, you never really know what you're going to get. One afternoon it's 68 degrees, and the next morning it's 18.

We had a wicked thunderstorm early in the day recently. The wind tore through the yard, the hail bounced, and the rain teemed in all directions at the same time. Then, as the day went on, the temperature plummeted and a deep freeze settled in for the night.

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What did I do? I worried about my daffodils. These beautiful harbingers of spring were being beaten down -- some in bud stage, others with full trumpet unfurled. All seemed in peril.

The next morning I assessed the damage. My sweet daffodils were lying on the ground looking like the wounded of a battlefield. All brought down before they had a chance to prove themselves as the reward for a long winter.

I couldn't let it go at that. I had to try and salvage the spring I had been desperately waiting for since January. So out I went clutching my garden scissors, insisting I would find one or two daffodils spared from the wind and cold.

To my surprise, and joy, I saw that there was still life in these resilient daffs. Granted, some were worse off than others, but they looked like they might make it. Spring was not going to be put off so easily, thank you very much.

I left the ones on the south side of the house, figuring that the warmth of the sun would revive them with relative ease. But the few on the north side were struggling -- hard. Without too much arm twisting, I talked myself into cutting these daffodils to bring inside.

Their stems were flaccid, but the flowers held up. I left them on the kitchen counter for a little while, to adjust to the inside temperature, then I placed them in water. The large, trumpeted, forsythia-yellow ''King Alfred'' was the first to revive completely. The two large-cupped, ice-yellow narcissi also did well. And the small-cupped narcissus with its yellow petals and apricot-orange cup seemed to like indoor life. But the bud worried me.

I had no idea what it would open up to be, if it opened up at all. The top of the stem at the base of the bud was severely bent. The wind must have tossed this little unopened flower relentlessly. The next morning, I checked to see if it still had signs of life.

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I look to this bud as an affirmation of hope, a symbol of survival, and a sign that injury need not translate into defeat. It is possible to heal. It is possible to continue on. It is possible to believe the impossible.

My little daffodil bud is starting to open. Its neck never picked up, but it seems to be impervious to that glitch. The petals are giving way to a long, lemon-yellow trumpet. As it struggles daily to keep up with the rest of the daffodils in the vase, it is the one that stands out the most. And, to my eyes, it is the most beautiful.

To think I had such little faith. My courageous little daffodil, which insists on heralding the spring, taught me otherwise.

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